Given the turmoil that boiled around him in 1999, President Bill Clinton was fit and in high spirits when Washington bureau chief Sarah Skolnik, news director Kristen Kelch and I sat down with him in the Oval Office this month for PEOPLE’s traditional end-of-year presidential interview. Workers were readying the White House and the grounds with 324 wreaths and 38 Christmas trees, but the President’s thoughts went beyond celebrating the season. He was eager to talk about the future as well as the past. (He asked about the results of our Poll of the Century—see page 137—in which readers picked the most memorable achievements and entertainers of the past 100 years. His own all-time favorite movie? “High Noon,” he told us, “because it’s the greatest western ever made.”) Shifting from noon to midnight and New Year’s Eve, the President also enthused about ringing in 2000 with wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea. “I’m going to have some family and friends here,” he said. But he was even more excited about the Y2K millennium event that Hillary has organized on the National Mall. The three-day celebration will include a three-hour show with actor Will Smith as host and an 18-minute documentary on the 20th century by director Steven Spielberg, as well as a gigantic fireworks display. “Anyone can come,” said the President. “It’s a gift to America.”
The New Year is a time for reflection too, and the President clearly has his legacy on his mind. The interview begins on page 110.
Of course, ’tis also the season when gift giving abounds. But PEOPLE readers display a generosity of spirit all year long. In April, after we spotlighted the horrific traumas endured by children in war-torn Kosovo, International Medical Corps relief worker Dr. Jeff Colyer received dozens of offers to host a Kosovar family. After our September story on Locks of Love, an organization that provides wigs to kids who’ve lost their hair for medical reasons, rocker Sammy Hagar chopped off his ponytail on The Tonight Show, one of 8,000 gifts the group received. And when we told you in October about Makenzie Snyder, a Bowie, Md., third grader who started Children to Children, a program that gives suitcases to foster kids so they can carry their belongings between placements, Snyder received, among other pledges, some 300 bags from Nike. But Jennifer Arnold—who was flooded with close to $30,000 in donations after our October profile on her Canine Assistants program, which trains dogs to help the physically disabled—found the money brought in only part of the reward. “More than anything, I was moved by the letters,” she says. “They’re an inspiration that I can’t put into words.” Fortunately, we at PEOPLE can.
As we go forward into the next century, I hope that all of you have a joyous, healthy and giving holiday season.